Evolution of Human Resource Management

Shaun H. Ruff



In the competitive environment of open economy human resource management with the increased modern trends becoming significant factor for the efficient running of organization  Human resource management emerged from personnel management and personnel management emerged from manpower planning. The consideration of changes taking place in managing human resource led to adaptation of strategic HRM the consideration of strategy and HRM system jointly led to the emergence of strategic human resource management SHRM which is crucial for achieving a corporation’s long term goal. This article attempts to bring the historical evolution of HRM and changing roles of HR professional  from time to time in order to considered employees as an important assets which helps in attaining goals of the organization. The article finally draws attention to the fact that SHRM and not PM or HRM are people considered for modern industrialization that is to be used for creating and sustaining competitive advantage for the firm.


American writers Terrey and Franklin (1996) mentioned about the 6 Ms of management, viz.  Men and women, material, money, market and method. But among these, men and women – the only living being- do the effective coordination and utilization of these human and non-human resources. All the activities of any enterprise are initiated and

             Human resource gained more attention as the workforce considered to be an important resource to gain competitive advantage of organization and also it helpful in utilizing the resources of an organization to a optimum extent in order to achieve organizational goal.

             Managing human resource is an complex process. As Harzing and Ruysseveldt said a better way to understand the philosophy of human resource management demands a thorough understanding about the evolution of the concept itself from the ancestral concept personnel management. In 1990 due to liberalized government policies of various countries the human resource started floating from one country to another this led to diversification of workforce and cross culture took place as a result employees from one nation migrating to another nation and bringing their culture with them this led to mixed organization culture so the HR professional has to play major role in coordinating the workforce of different culture in an organization.

                  Approaches towards recruitment of staff focused to geocentric from ethnocentric and polycentric which is more efficient because workforce will be selected based on talent regardless of nationality. Method of recruiting also changed towards efficient policies like using of head hunters, cross national advertising, E- recruitment.


                              Evolution of Personnel management started in 19th century at that time there was a boom in industrialization which leads to increase in franchising and influence of trade unions and harshness of industrial condition called for the better of industrial condition. There was no department as such for taking care of above problem only welfare officers came into being to take care of above situation. These welfare officers were only women’s who take care of protectionism of women and girls because they feel it as worthy if women employee are sick they visit their home give food accommodation give moral welfare. As the role of women increasing like they were getting employed in modern industries where their work is packing assembly or other routine job so the quality required by these women employee increased so these welfare officer who were women their responsibility also increased that is to recruitment training development.

           But ambiguity has been increased due to increased in production and also increased in paternalistic behavior relationship between employer and employee and also aiming at moral protection of women and girls and also side by side the aim of achieving economies of scale is also increased like achieving higher output by minimizing cost by resolving grievances control of sickness these leads to mixed aim of achieving organizational objective in order to achieve but at that time their was only a handful of welfare officer was their they wanted to improve the condition of working of women in 1900 there were only few welfare officer was their but in 1913 number of welfare officer has been increased to take care of the situation.


         The exact growth of personnel management started during First World War because the number of munitions manufactured at a large scale so the number of employees needed to manufacture increased on the other hand the welfare officer also increased by 1300 to take care of employees it also sought the supply of labor to munitions factories as the supply of welfare officer made mandatory by government.

                During war women recruited at a large scale to fill the gap of men who left the factories to joint war which in turn leads to dispute labour union to employ unskilled women


               The title labour manager or employment manager came in the yeat 1920 in engineering industry and other industries where the factories was very huge to handle absence, recruitment, queries over business and so on.

                  Companies started merger and acquisition as strategy to grow in the mid of 19th century due to large number of employees employed they created their own specialist personnel department to unify the different policies and manage absence and recruitment with the objective of improving productivity. But this department is mainly concerned with hourly paid workers. As personnel management exist only in the emerging companies like plastic, chemicals and multiple retail. But during 1930’s the economy started to grow at a rapid pace due to this big corporation came in to existence they feel to improve the value of employee benefits like different kinds of allowances as a measure of retaining motivating employee.


Second world war increased the importance of having personnel department because of producing large war materials the ministry of labour and national services insisted to combine both personnel department and welfare officer work on a full time basis. Again in second world war the number of women employees is more to fill the gap left by men who join the battle field again re-training proper recruitment taken place government saw the there is a huge neeed to have personnel department to take care of all employees in well manner.



               As the industrial revolution take place simultaneously the factory system came in to being that leads increase in working rules and regulation to large number to employees increase in the hierarchical structure also increased in working hours but decrease in pay bad working condition, social distance between employee and employer has increased, increased bureaucratization all these factor results in increasing monotony boredom job displacement impersonality due to these factor personnel management got higher attention.


As in the Second World War the term employment manager started to take care of women employees the combination of both welfare officers and employment manager leads to personnel management. Though in the war times the productivity increased due to number of e
mployment policies undertaken but the role of personnel management during war time was small that to implement the rules demanded to produce large scale goods but it was not focusing on other aspect of managing human resource that is by motivation, promotion, increasing morale, performance appraisal etc but the role of negotiation of union has gain important role.  

              But there is an increasing in the bargaining between employer and unions during pre world war. During there is an enormous growth in an engineering industry but in 1950,s and 60,s there was an enormous growth in other type of industry which leads to the increasing the role of personnel management at same time large companies wanted to develop their own employment policies which suites to their company which leads to improve emerging new aspect in personnel management.

              The bargaining power of unions has increases which resulted in unnecessary official and unofficial strikes which were damaging the economy particularly manufacturing industry in UK the strikes were in huge number and it became famous in maintain poor industrial relation and the number of working days lost due to strike which resulted in closer of number of factories. The situation becoming worse and worse it was critical for both employers and unions due to this reason personnel manager was blaming for lacking of negotiation skill to resolve these situation and plan for industrial relationship strategies because of these deficiencies personnel management was not given high priority these leads to management to think something higher profile which have all the skill to negotiate to motivate.

                              In the year mid of 1960’s organization started giving much importance to employ the personnel specialist to perform different activities in order to make the employees as a whole package to perform in the organization. the world is becoming global village and labour started moving from one country to another this resulted in managing the workforce diversity this become the challenge for the personnel management to manage these workforce diversity.

                           In the year 1960 Even the domestic rules and regulation was increased towards employability the new legislation was introduced towards employment, training, and redundancy payments, equal pay opportunities, employment protection. The year 1960 was high inflation so there was a regulation on wages paid by the employer personnel manager has to understand this new aspect of regulation regarding inflation to develop policies to implement new measures which aligned with employee’s satisfaction level.

                         Improvement in selection training appraisal and new management techniques has been expanded to improve the performance of the employees which demands to improve the profile of personnel management.

Personnel management perform different function such as

  • Collective bargaining role
  • Implementation of legislation role
  • Bureaucratic role
  • Social conscience of the business role
  • Growing performance improvement role


                      The role of HRM has gain more important in the year 1980. There was a complete shift from post war collectivism and towards individualism and changes in structure of economy. Some people thought that HRM was evolved to solve union problem as there is an demand to take care of employees of an organization as a whole it performs different function.

                     During 1990,s the success of large Japanese corporation in export market like automobiles and electronic goods took surprise to many western companies but studies says that the success of these Japanese firm is due to effective management of workforce the studies also shows that the workforce of Japanese firm are more productive and efficient than western firm. The key to success of Japanese companies like Toyota Matsushita are the practice adopted for efficient management of workforce as these companies started opening its manufacturing plant in western countries the practice of these companies also started practiced by western companies. The practice include are:

  • Strict and rigorous selection and recruitment
  • High level of training, especially induction training and on the job training
  • Team working
  • Multitasking
  • Better management-worker communications
  • Use of quality circles and an emphasis on right first time quality
  • Encouragement of employee suggestions and innovation
  • Single status symbols such as common canteens and corporate uniforms

                 The reason of above practice is create an organization atmosphere where workers can grow and identify their own success and goal which match with organization.

Management practice



Job design

Focused on the individual

Focused on the team

Performance management

Measured standards for minimum performance

Higher “stretch” objectives

Management structure

Top down and hierarchical. Emphasis on management symbols

Flat organisation structure. Minimum status differentials


Individual pay linked to job evaluation

Pay linked to skills and mastery


Employees viewed as variable cost

Assurances that participation will not result in job losses

Employee voice

Employee input allowed on a narrow agenda.

Employee participation enacted on a wide range of issues

Labour management relations

Adversarial labour relations

Mutuality with joint planning and problem solving

                                                        Figure 1

                                       Walton’s control to commitment

                                      (Source adopted from Walton 1985)


Strategic human resource management is a branch of human resource management. SHRM means combination of strategy and HRM. It also refers to linking of human resources with strategic goals and objectives to achieve goals of an organization it also helps in improving the performance of innovation flexibility and competitive advantage. In an organization SHRM means accepting and involving the HR function as a strategic partner in the formulation and implementation of the company’s strategies through HR activities.


  • Linkage of HR policy with organizational strategy in order to achieve organizational goals and objective
  • Linkage of individual HR intervention so that they are mutually supportive.


  • Globalization and internationalization of market integration
  • Increased technological change
  • Cross culture issues
  • Increased competition
  • Increasing new concept


By doing complete analysis of evolution of HRM the conclusion is their will be modern trends will be occurring in HRM like strategic human resource management it is mandatory for every organization to treat all employees in a well manner because they are the assets of an organization which helps in achieving organization goal.


  • http://www.cipd.co.uk/subjects/hrpract/hrtrends/hr
  • Documents and SettingsaDesktopWhat is Strategic Human Resource Management.mht
  • Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rana_Sinha
  • Consortium research programme
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